Enjoy cocktails with a view at Icebergs Terrace | Courtesy of Icebergs Terrace
From Instagram-worthy cocktail lounges with ocean views to neighbourhood favourites, there are bars in Bondi suitable for every budget and any occasion.
Visitors to Bondi commonly flock to bars located along Campbell Parade, the main strip that borders Bondi Beach. However, Bondi resident and award-winning sommelier Chris Morrison believes that there are much better options just around the corner. Morrison, who is also the group wine director of QT Hotels, recommends people head up the hill to Bondi Road, away from the tourist traps. “It’s an area that has really blown up in the past few years,” he explains. “In Bondi, there is now clearly a new direction towards smaller venues where wine, beverages and food form part of a holistic concept, as opposed to people going to drink somewhere and then going to a restaurant.” These are Morrison’s best bars in Bondi.
Cafe, Restaurant, Central American, $$$
Courtesy of Panama House
By day, Panama House is one of the top spots for brunch in Bondi. There’s even a bottomless brunch menu to vouch for that. But when the sun sets, the venue is all about Central American-inspired cocktails and imported beers and wines from Mexico and South America. The drinks menu is full of cocktails, with five available all-year round and the rest changing seasonally. Head here during happy hour (Tuesday to Friday, from 5pm to 7pm) to enjoy some of these at reduced prices while admiring views of Bondi Beach.
The Royal Bondi has been given a new lease of life after its takeover by Sydney-based hospitality giant Merivale. Fans of the grand corner pub, which has been serving punters since 1907, need not worry, though, as its dive-bar aesthetics, including pool tables, are still intact. It’s just got a renewed purpose: to serve high-quality drinks in a low-key environment. “It’s a relaxed, casual, no-rules kind of place,” Morrison says. Drink range from from daiquiris to bottled negronis and boilermakers and craft brews. There’s also a vending machine packed with tinnies.
Morrison says Peppe’s, a vegan Italian pasta and wine bar housed in a heritage-listed building, encapsulates what Bondi is fast becoming. “You’re getting a marriage of a satisfying and nourishing food menu with a punchy drinks list,” he says. The drinks menu features a page dedicated entirely to martinis and offers 15 wines by the glass, all local, natural and artisanal – the perfect accompaniment to Peppe’s famous gnocchi. More importantly, it’s affordable. Pasta and a glass of wine will set patrons back around 30 Australian dollars (£16).
Drawing on flavours and spices of the Middle East, the mixologists at Sefa Kitchen create seasonal cocktails to match the venue’s meze-style menu inspired by cooking traditions from the Levant. These include using cardamom-infused pisco in a pisco sour and adding coconut-infused tequila to create a coconut margarita. Raki, a Turkish aniseed-flavour spirit, also makes an appearance in the bar’s cocktails. Equal attention is paid to the non-alcoholic options, with the house-made limonata and mocktail lychee and mint spritz particular highlights.
What once was a tram stop is now home to The Corner House, a two-level venue that Morrison describes as an “Italian diner that offers grazing boards and a strong cocktail programme to match”. If you’re in need of some refreshment, head upstairs to the cocktail bar. With plush seating and a sprawling balcony, it’s the ideal place to enjoy a cocktail or two. Signatures here include the No Mura-Colada with mezcal, pineapple juice and jalapeno sherbet, and Bogans Mai Tai with banana bourbon, lime juice, amaro and orgeat.
Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, Pub Grub, Australian
Courtesy of Icebergs Terrace
As Morrison puts it, Icebergs Terrace is the “quintessential” bar to visit when in Bondi. “It’s all about high-end cocktails and food,” he says. With views of the Pacific Ocean and the world-renowned saltwater pool right below, Icebergs is the place to dress to impress. It’s also a chance to capture those Instagram-worthy selfies with a drink in hand, whether it’s a glass of prosecco or one of the vodka-based spritzes infused with botanicals and fruit essences. The food menu is limited but enough to keep the stomach lined, with the freshly shucked oysters, caprese salad or beef Iceburger sure to satisfy.
“If you’re going to have a beer in Bondi, you have to go to the North Bondi RSL and sit on the terrace with a cheap schooner,” Morrison recommends. It’s mainly because North Bondi RSL, located on the opposite end of Bondi Beach from Icebergs, is a no-fuss, unpretentious spot. There’s no time for fancy cocktails; just ice-cold beer and wine. The Royal Service Leagues club was originally founded in 1944 by World War II veterans, and while it’s a locals’ club, visitors are welcome. The only thing to remember is that, as with any RSL in Australia, there’s a dress code: no hats, swimwear, torn or dirty clothes, dirty work boots or singlets.